5/29/13 - PTC_Proverbs 23 - "Alcohol"
Priority Time Challenge 2013
To view the instructions for our journey through the Proverbs and the daily schedule, click here.
Proverbs 23:29-35 (ESV)
29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
30 Those who tarry long over wine;
those who go to try mixed wine.
31 Do not look at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup
and goes down smoothly.
32 In the end it bites like a serpent
and stings like an adder.
33 Your eyes will see strange things,
and your heart utter perverse things.
34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
like one who lies on the top of a mast.
35 “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt;
they beat me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake?
I must have another drink.”
"Those who tarry long over wine…"
We all know people who "tarry long" over alcohol. For many of us there is great heartache because we know loved ones and friends whose lives have been painfully affected by alcohol abuse. This is an example of how the Proverbs serve as a warning to us. What's the warning?
- v32) "in the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder" - The suffering of consequences
- v33) "Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things." - The loss of clarity
- v34) "You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast." - The deterioration of character
- v35) “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.” - The clutches of compromise
I can't tell you how many times I've been asked if drinking is a sin. Let me clear the air AND redirect our focus in this discussion.
DRINKING IS NOT A SIN. IN all my study of Scripture, I cannot in good conscience say drinking is sinful. I can say with great certainty that drinking is a common gateway toward lots of sin opportunity in our world. The problem I see that comes with asking the "sin" question is that in polarizing the issue of drinking is running the risk of a two of grave errors.
1. The risk of of self-righteousness. If you view drinking as a sin (which many do) you can be susceptible to a self-righteous view that leads you to judge others and see yourself as better because of your sobriety.
2. The risk of secrecy. This one is equally as bad. Often the rule becomes a convenient way to hide the secret "sin." Whatever is done in secrecy is open for abuse. Secret drinking lacks the accountability of others. This is how many have developed an addiction to alcohol.
What if we changed the focus from a rule to a warning - like we see here in Proverbs 23?
What I have discovered in my study of Scripture is, drinking is a freedom for Christ followers as each individual faith allows; however, always in the presence of a warning about the dangers that lurk within the freedom. Much like we see with food and money in the Bible - for instance it's ok to eat but gluttonuy in not ok - it's ok to have money but greed is not ok.
This passage is a warning. Those who choose to drink must accept the risk and allow the warning to temper the choice.
The emphasis on "those who tarry long over wine…" is to be noted. The issue is giving alcohol too much attention. Whatever we give our attention to can easily become a source of problem or pain in our lives. When we give too much attention to alcohol, we suffer the consequences of bad decisions, we lose clarity in our liver, our character becomes inconsistent and we can fall prey to the clutches of compromise and drinking takes control of our lives.
Here's my bottom line - willingly receive God's warning about alcohol. Don't dodge passages like these. Be willing to surrender all of your life to the Lord. Even if you have the issue of drinking settled in your heart, hear the warning again and stay out of the errors of self-righteousness and secrecy. Stay away from an unchecked area of your life. Perhaps God will simply reinforce your position, perhaps your position will change. In any case, we want lives that are in full submission to God.
The imagery of this passage should paint a clear picture of someone who is spiraling out of control because of alcohol. We have all seen this enough in our culture and perhaps closer to home to recognize this as a much needed warning.
If you choose to drink alcohol, ask yourself the following questions…
- Is my drinking causing me or those close to me to suffer?
- Is my "freedom to drink" a true conviction from the Lord or my excuse to do what I want?
- Is my drinking respectful of the faith of others?
- Am I willing to stop drinking at a given moment to honor someone else?
- Am I willing to hear God say, "put it down and walk away?"
If you choose not to drink ask yourself the following questions…
- Is there a self righteous attitude in me because I don't drink?
- Is there another area of my life, such as money or food, where a similar warning is needed?
- Can you gracefully participate or walk away from situations where drinking is present?
- Can you entrust God's conviction toward those you feel may need to stop drinking?
Please do not misunderstand the statement "drinking is not a sin." For you it is because you are underage and it's illegal. Besides that, I want to add to the already clear waring about drinking. During the teenage years, drinking (and sexual promiscuity) is one of the riskiest things you can do. The combination of alcohol and teenage immaturity is a dangerous combination. You are better off not drinking at all during your teenage years. If you choose to drink as an adult, I urge you to see the wise counsel of an adult that represents the kind of future you long to have someday. Adults and teens alike need to live with the sober reminder that alcohol is not an insignificant thing and should always be approached with wisdom.
If alcohol is a problem for you please do not hesitate to get help. The best first step is to attend Celebrate Recover at Highpoint Church this Wednesday at 6:30pm. Do not allow your life or loved ones to suffer any longer because of alcohol.
God, thank you that You give us freedom and thank you all the more that you warn us so our freedoms don't destroy us. God help us keep all pleasures in check. I pray for the many reading this post who suffer because of alcohol please give them healing and freedom from alcohol. I pray for those who choose to drink, please convict them to be responsible and God-honoring in their freedom. I pray that we always heed Your warnings as statements of love from our good heavenly Father.
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